Apple exploring Magic Wand controller for next-gen Apple TV

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple is exploring the possibility of including a wireless "remote wand" with future versions of its Apple TV media system that would provide users with precise control over a cursor on the Apple TV screen in very much the same way a conventional mouse controls a cursor on a PC. It would also unlock three-dimensional controls similar to those offered by Nintendo's Wii controller.



The wand, which was revealed in a patent filing published for the first time this week, would control the movement of a cursor displayed on a TV screen by the position and orientation at which it is held by the user. As the user moves the wand, the on-screen cursor would follow.



Unlike the current 5-button remote shipping with the current version of Apple TV, the wand would be capable of controlling a plurality of new operations and applications that may be available from the media system, including for example zoom operations, a keyboard application, an image application, an illustration application, and a media application.



According to Apple, the Apple TV media system could identify the movements of the wand using any suitable motion detection component such as an embedded accelerometer or a gyroscope. Another approach for identifying the movements of the wand would be to determine its absolute position relative to one or more infrared modules positioned adjacent to the screen in the living room.



"The wand may include an optical component for capturing images of the infrared modules, and may calculate its orientation and distance from the modules based on the captured images," the company said. "In some embodiments, the electronic device may direct the infrared modules to identify the position of an infrared emitter incorporated on the wand, and may calculate the absolute position of the wand relative to the infrared modules."



By incorporating the wand controller into future Apple TVs, Apple would unlock a tremendous amount of capability in its set-top-box interface while blurring the lines between a conventional PC and a media system. In one example, the company shows how pressing the remote's menu button would trigger a Dock to rise from the bottom of the Apple TV screen, which users could then navigate by moving the wand from left to right.







The wand could also incorporate several new selection techniques that would reduce dependency on physical buttons such as the menu/select button on the current Apple remote.



"In some embodiments, the user may provide a selection input by moving wand in a particular manner," Apple said. "For example, the user may flick wand (e.g., move wand in circular pattern), rotate wand in a particular manner (e.g., perform a rotation of wand), move wand a particular distance off screen, or any other suitable movement of wand."







When it comes to navigating album art or other media presented in CoverFlow mode, the user could draw a circular pattern on the screen to cause the CoverFlow carousel to rotate, displaying different selectable options. Wand movements could also direct the carousel to turn in a particular direction based on the direction in which it's rotated.



When inside Apple TV's photo application, similar movements would allow the user to navigate large sets of thumbnails and make selections. However, a more powerful aspect may the ability of the wand to zoom in and out of images based on its proximity to the screen.



"To zoom out, the user may move wand away from screen such that the distance between wand and screen may be larger than the initial distance between wand and [the] screen," Apple explained. "The larger distance between wand and screen may be depicted by the position of wand relative [to its] origin. [...] In some embodiments, the user may provide an input in the z-direction (e.g., to zoom out) by providing an appropriate input with an input mechanism without moving wand. For example, the user may roll a scroll wheel, provide an input on a touchpad, or move a joystick to provide an input in the z-direction and zoom out the image of [the] screen."







Rotating the wand could also serve to rotate and skew images on the screen:







Another advantage of the wand would be its ability to trigger a keyboard application from within any of Apple TV's core applications and provide swifter input. Instead of navigating the keyboard with left, right, up, and down arrows, the "user may select a character on the displayed line by pointing wand at a particular character to place cursor over the character," Apple said. "To access other characters not displayed on a particular line, the user may select one of [the] arrows to scroll [a] line to the left or to the right. In some embodiments, the user may simply place cursor at the left or right edge of the screen to scroll [a] line."







Apple goes on in the massive 64-page filing to describe methods for using the wand to control media scrubber bars, jump around the Apple TV interface, and serve as a digital pen for an illustration application.







The May 2008 filing is credited to Apple employees Duncan Kerr and Nicholas King.



In January acting chief executive Tim Cook said, "We will continue to invest [in Apple TV], because we believe there is something there for us in the future." Cook's comments were in the context of the news that unit sales were up over three times year-over-year. He still cautioned Apple is considering the device a hobby, as Steve Jobs has often said since its release.



Apple released a new version of the Apple TV software late last month.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    animaniacanimaniac Posts: 122member
    How is it possible that the article makes no mention of Nintendo Wii and Wiimote?



    Edit: !!! AI ninja edited the article. No fair.
  • Reply 2 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple is exploring the possibility of including a wireless "remote wand" with future versions of its Apple TV media system that would provide users with precise control over a cursor on the Apple TV screen in very much the same way a conventual mouse controls a cursor on a PC.



    Wii!!!!! (This sounds cool! It would be a great way to control games if they ever wanted to add games to the Apple TV.)
  • Reply 3 of 49
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    Please God, no! Have you ever tried to use a Wiimote as a cursor? It's a terrible experience.
  • Reply 4 of 49
    First there was "Apple TV"

    Then came "Apple TV Take Two"

    Coming Soon "Apple TV Take Twii"
  • Reply 5 of 49
    imatimat Posts: 167member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    First there was "Apple TV"

    Then came "Apple TV Take Two"

    Coming Soon "Apple TV Take Twii"







    Utterly funny!
  • Reply 6 of 49
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Animaniac View Post


    How is it possible that the article makes no mention of Nintendo Wii and Wiimote?



    or the Mobile Air Mouse App (which is amazing and well worth the price).
  • Reply 7 of 49
    Hell yes. Always wanted to be able to control my TV/computer with a Wiimote. I imagine if Apple made an actual TV this is what they'd do, regular TV remotes are too slow and horrible to use for anything other than changing the channel/volume.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    First there was "Apple TV"

    Then came "Apple TV Take Two"

    Coming Soon "Apple TV Take Twii"



    I can't believe I laughed at that.
  • Reply 8 of 49
    technotechno Posts: 706member
    Any improvement over the horrible UI AppleTV uses now would be a blessing. I don't use the AppleTV as much as I would like simply because that interface is so clunky!
  • Reply 9 of 49
    technotechno Posts: 706member
    Oh and by the way...





    Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii !!
  • Reply 10 of 49
    Couldn't they allow an iphone or ipod touch do this right now, not only for appletv but also for imacs, etc ?
  • Reply 11 of 49
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    First there was "Apple TV"

    Then came "Apple TV Take Two"

    Coming Soon "Apple TV Take Twii"



    You always brighten things up here.

    BTW - that U2 sale at Amazon must have been only for that day- it's back up to $8.99.

    But I did notice a lot of other really good MP3 deals- so thanks for the heads up.
  • Reply 12 of 49
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by grisman View Post


    Couldn't they allow an iphone or ipod touch do this right now, not only for appletv but also for imacs, etc ?



    MOBILE AIR MOUSE app- excellent for any Mac, available right now.

    ATV is closed so I doubt it will ever work for ATV.
  • Reply 13 of 49
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    My predictions of what will happen when certain posters notice the Safari icon in the filing. In order...
    1) Get excited momentarily about the prospects.

    2) Write that you thought of the idea before Apple.

    3) Lambast Apple for not including a browser with the original AppleTV.
    Dare to prove me wrong by not whining.
  • Reply 14 of 49
    hattighattig Posts: 830member
    Ugh, the Wiimote is difficult enough - that's why the buttons are so large on the Wii interface.



    Using it for an on-screen keyboard is just painful.



    However compared to nothing or a more basic remote control ...
  • Reply 15 of 49
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    My predictions of what will happen when certain posters notice the Safari icon in the filing. In order...[index]1) Get excited momentarily about the prospects.

    2) Write that you thought of the idea before Apple.

    3) Lambast Apple for not including a browser with the original AppleTV.[/index]



    ?? That's not like you lately.



    Frankly- I didn't even notice it until now.

    Is there anything wrong with wanting Safari on our AppleTV? I won't even hold it against Apple for continually denying that I need it. If we get it- great- it would save me $$ on a MacMini right now.



    You must be pretty happy that you got the voice on the shuffle that you asked for - right? Same thing for us with Safari on the ATV, if we get it.



    BTW-Did you want voice on the shuffle or just iPods in general?

    P.S. Notice how we never accused you of whining even though you asked for something that Apple wasn't giving you.

  • Reply 16 of 49
    Selecting characters for text entry would be a pain in the ass.



    Hopefully, they left you use a bluetooth keyboard also.



    I'm gladding they are working on the Apple TV.



    Please add Safari and Hulu!
  • Reply 17 of 49
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galley View Post


    Please God, no! Have you ever tried to use a Wiimote as a cursor? It's a terrible experience.



    This is just a patent filing. The result will probably be very different and there is no reason to suspect that Apple would remove the other input methods for text if they were to include a Wii-like motion.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by techno View Post


    Any improvement over the horrible UI AppleTV uses now would be a blessing. I don't use the AppleTV as much as I would like simply because that interface is so clunky!



    I don't find the UI clunky in how it navigates, but the time from remote control input to on-screen execution is too long. Using Nvidia's Ion chipset with Snow Leopard for the AppleTV OS may rectify that.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hattig View Post


    Ugh, the Wiimote is difficult enough - that's why the buttons are so large on the Wii interface.



    Using it for an on-screen keyboard is just painful.



    However compared to nothing or a more basic remote control ...



    This seems like a pretty lame idea to me too. Esp. the contention that this would improve the use of the onscreen keyboard.



    The onscreen keyboard is a clunky solution itself, but controlling the cursor from ten or twenty feet away by precision pointing of a handheld remote is kind of like assuming that we are all gunslingers. People are supposed to "shoot from the hip" and hit a one inch wide target from 10 feet? Most folks don't have that kind of hand-eye coordination and hitting a series of up-down-left-right keys on a remote (the current method) would be way more efficient IMO.



    This only makes sense as a way to move a cursor or manipulate virtual objects which basically means WebTV type stuff or games. Whether or not we will be using our TVs for that kind of stuff in any big way is still up in the air at this point, and games work better either with a dedicated controller or an iPhone as a controller.



    WebTV is a twenty year old idea at this point that hasn't caught on yet.
  • Reply 19 of 49
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,158member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    My predictions of what will happen when certain posters notice the Safari icon in the filing. In order...
    1) Get excited momentarily about the prospects.

    2) Write that you thought of the idea before Apple.

    3) Lambast Apple for not including a browser with the original AppleTV.
    Dare to prove me wrong by not whining.



    There is an App Store/apps icon as well. It would be interesting to see those icons description in the original filling. Too bad AI did not provide the patent number.
  • Reply 20 of 49
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    There is an App Store/apps icon as well.



    For what?
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